HOUNSFIELD – Administrative law judges from the state Department of Public Service and Department of Environmental Conservation awarded the town of Hounsfield and the village of Sackets Harbor $5,000 each in intervenor funding during an Article 10 pre-application hearing for Apex Clean Energy’s Galloo Island Wind project on Thursday at the Town Hall.
During the meeting, Kevin J. Casutto and Ashley Moreno, judges from PSC, and Michael S. Caruso, a judge from DEC, reviewed and discussed the applications of three intervenor funding applicants: Sackets Harbor, Hounsfield and Historic Places Galloo Island Lighthouse property owner Anthony Dibnah. The judges reserved Mr. Dibnah’s request for funding until he and his attorney provide a retainer agreement.
“We’re pleased to have received the funds that we did receive,” said Hounsfield Town Supervisor Timothy W. Scee.
The intervenor funds awarded to Sackets Harbor and Hounsfield will be used to pay for technical and legal consultants participating in each municipality’s scoping study for the project, the results of which will be provided for inclusion into Apex’s project application.
Hounsfield originally applied for $13,380 to pay its legal consultants during the project application process. Sackets Harbor applied for $20,000 to pay for engineering, legal and environmental consultants to study the impacts the project could have on its visual and historic assets.
“We were disappointed,” said Dennis G. Whelpley, an attorney from Conboy, McKay, Bachman and Kendall LLP representing Sackets Harbor.
Mr. Dibnah, who was unable to attend the meeting in person and spoke to the judges by phone, sought intervenor funds to protect his interest in the historic lighthouse. In his application, Mr. Dibnah applied for $15,000 to ensure the lighthouse’s preservation.
One concern that the judges brought to Mr. Dibnah was whether his property was considered a residence, which is a requirement for a property owner to qualify for intervenor funding. Mr. Whelpley challenged the claim, saying that nothing but “tar and sand” had occupied the lighthouse in 50 years.
Mr. Dibnah said that restoring the lighthouse will allow him to obtain a certificate of occupancy.
“There doesn’t seem to be a question of occupancy,” he said.
A tentative schedule for Apex’s stipulation process was also discussed during the meeting.
While no concrete schedule was set, James A. Muscato II, an attorney from Young/Sommer LLC representing Apex, said the company will submit stipulation drafts by Aug. 12 and potentially start the stipulation process two weeks later. PSC staff members, however, requested additional time before starting the process.
“We’re certainly willing to be flexible with that,” Mr. Muscato said, potentially altering the schedule.
Applicants can still send requests for additional intervenor funding to the PSC by Aug. 11.
Out of the allotted $38,640 of intervenor funding from Apex, $28,640 is still available at this time. Both Mr. Whelpley and Mr. Scee said that they intend to create a collaborative application between Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor to request additional funding, which the judges recommended to prevent duplicating services.
“We are looking forward to working with the village on a joint application,” Mr. Scee said.
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